Obama edges out Trump in poll of most admired man in 2016

Michael Walsh
·Reporter

President-elect Donald Trump might have been the long-shot success story of the year, but his predecessor, President Obama, is still the most admired man in the U.S., according to a plurality of respondents in a new poll.

Gallup released the results of a new poll Wednesday that shows 22 percent of 1,028 American adults surveyed mentioned Obama when posed an open-ended question about the man they most admire in the world. Trump was named by 15 percent of respondents.

According to the polling company, this is Obama’s ninth straight win in this category, although his 7-point margin above Trump is his narrowest yet. The list also included Pope Francis, Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Rev. Billy Graham, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Dalai Lama and plenty others.

Gallup explained that Obama’s win came down to the fact that more Democrats mentioned him than Republicans mentioned Trump. Half of Democratic respondents named Obama as most admired, while only 34 percent of Republican respondents went with Trump.

It is typical for sitting presidents to receive the designation. The president won 58 times out of the 70 times the question was asked — and the exceptions were when the incumbent president was particularly unpopular, such as former President George W. Bush in 2008. In fact, Obama’s winning the top spot that year was the first time for a president-elect since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

Americans also named Hillary Clinton as the most admired woman of the year for the 15th consecutive year and the 21st time in total. Clinton won a plurality of the 2016 poll’s vote, with 12 percent. Others included first lady Michelle Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Pakistani women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai.

President Obama delivers remarks before signing the 21st Century Cures Act into law at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in December in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Obama delivers remarks before signing the 21st Century Cures Act into law at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in December in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Obama and Clinton have been named the most admired man and woman, respectively, every year since 2008, when the former first won the U.S. presidential election. Trump placed in the top 10 five other times: 1988, 1989, 1990, 2011 and 2015.

Still, Trump’s meteoric rise to the highest office in the United States this year came as a shock to many. Time magazine named him the 2016 Person of the Year, a perpetually misunderstood designation, as it is not necessarily an honor. Since 1927, Time has named the person who had the greatest influence over the course of events for the year — for better or worse.

“For those who believe this is all for the better, Trump’s victory represents a long-overdue rebuke to an entrenched and arrogant governing class; for those who see it as for the worse, the destruction extends to cherished norms of civility and discourse, a politics poisoned by vile streams of racism, sexism, nativism,” wrote Time Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs.

The raucous nature of Trump’s presidential campaign appeared to subside a bit after he met with Obama at the White House for a conversation that was by all accounts cordial. Trump even complimented Obama — with whom he’s had a longstanding and nasty public feud — much to the chagrin of many supporters.

But after Obama told his former senior adviser and campaign manager David Axelrod that he thinks he would have beaten Trump had he been eligible to run a third time, Trump fired back on his favorite platform: Twitter.

Trump, who spearheaded the so-called birther moment and has no shortage of his own provocative statements, on Wednesday accused Obama of being “inflammatory.”

The Gallup poll was conducted from Dec. 7 to Dec. 11 through phone interviews with people from all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. There was a quota for 60 percent cellphone participants and 40 percent landline participants.

President Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington in November. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
President Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington in November. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)